On a cold March night in 2007, Jeff Brodeur got the phone call that changed his life. His son, Army Pvt. Vincent Mannion-Brodeur, 19, had been searching a structure near Tikrit, Iraq, when a mortar-shell booby trap exploded. His sergeant was killed instantly and Mannion-Brodeur suffered a devastating head injury as well as deep shrapnel wounds to his arm and torso. Jeff and his wife, Maura, sitting stunned in their Cape Cod, Mass., home, were told that their son might not live.
Vincent had stabilized enough to be taken to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where they rushed to see him. That began an exhausting journey that saw the couple battle the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to get the best possible care for their son.